What Does Enjoyment Mean?

To  enjoy  means  to  take  pleasure  or  satisfaction from something; enjoyment is the act or condition of enjoying. Thus, enjoyment of physical activity is the act or condition of taking pleasure or satisfaction from physical activity. This entry discusses the conceptualization  and  assessment  of  enjoyment, as well as the role of enjoyment as a predictor of physical  activity  behavior  and  a  mediator  of  the effects of physical activity promotion interventions on adherence to physical activity programs.

Enjoyment  is  a  broad  concept  encompassing both  pleasure  and  satisfaction.  Pleasure  is  typically  conceptualized  as  the  subjective  experience of  positive  hedonic  tone  and  can  occur  in  the absence  of  higher  cognitive  processing  regarding the meaning of a stimulus—in this case, physical activity.  Satisfaction  occurs  following  the  fulfillment of a need or goal and thus, relative to pleasure, typically entails more cognitive mediation to ascertain  the  meaning  of  the  triggering  stimulus. Thus, one may report enjoyment of physical activity  like  a  walk  in  the  park  because  of  the  immediate  pleasure  experienced  during  the  activity  or because  of  thoughts  about  having  accomplished one’s  daily  physical  activity  or  how  it  might benefit health.

In research on physical activity enjoyment, the concept  is  most  often  assessed  by  the  Physical Activity  Enjoyment  Scale  (PACES)  developed  by Deborah  Kendzierski  and  Kenneth  J.  DeCarlo. The  PACES  includes  18  semantic  differential items, which require respondents to select a point along a 7-point continuum between two opposite descriptors relevant to enjoyment of physical activity  (e.g.,  I  enjoy  it  .  .  .  I  hate  it;  I  dislike  it  .  .  .  I like it; I find it pleasurable . . . I find it unpleasurable). While separate measures have been used to independently  assess  pleasure  and  satisfaction  in response  to  physical  activity,  the  PACES  remains the most popular measure of the global concept of enjoyment.

Enjoyment  of  physical  activity,  as  measured by the PACES, is a robust correlate and predictor of  physical  activity  behavior  in  youth,  as  well  as younger and older adults. This correlation between physical  activity  enjoyment  and  physical  activity behavior  simply  means  that  people  who  enjoy physical activity are more likely to engage in it.

Considerably   less   research   has   examined whether enjoyment of physical activity can act as a  mediator  between  physical  activity  promotion interventions  and  increases  in  physical  activity behavior.  That  is,  few  studies  have  examined  the effects  of  public  health  interventions  on  people’s enjoyment   of   physical   activity,   and,   in   turn, increases  in  physical  activity  behavior.  Thus,  it remains unclear as to whether enjoyment of physical  activity  is  malleable  through  intervention  or whether certain people are—because of biological predispositions  or  early  childhood  experiences— more  likely  to  enjoy  physical  activity  and  more likely to engage in it. More research is needed to investigate  whether,  how,  when,  and  for  whom physical   activity   enjoyment   can   be   increased through  public  health  interventions  or  individual efforts.

References:

  1. Kendzierski, D., & DeCarlo, K. J. (1991). Physical activity enjoyment scale: Two validation studies. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 13, 50–64.
  2. Mullen, S. P., Olson, E. A., Phillips, S. M., Szabo, A. N., Wójcicki, T. R., Mailey, E. L., et al. (2011). Measuring enjoyment of physical activity in older adults: Invariance of the physical activity enjoyment scale (paces) across groups and time. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 8.
  1. Rhodes, R. E., Fiala, B., & Conner, M. (2009). A review and meta-analysis of affective judgments and physical activity in adult populations. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 38, 180–204.

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